Open Government Partnership Reporting Mechanism Working Group minutes: December 2020

Minutes from the meeting of the group on 7 December 2020.

Attendees and apologies


  • Daren Fitzhenry (Chair), Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Erin Gray, Head of Policy and Information, Scottish Information Commissioner
  • Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government, Scottish Government
  • Saskia Kearns, OGP Commitment 4 Lead, Scottish Government
  • Jillian Matthew, Performance Audit & Best Value, Audit Scotland
  • Kelly McBride, Director Scotland, Democratic Society
  • Alex Stobart, Director Scotland, Mydex CIC


  • Madeleine Fleming, Open Government, Scottish Government

Items and actions

1. Introductions

Welcoming the group, the chair set out the purpose of this meeting; to review the draft report and discuss the remaining actions and decisions required to prepare the course of action options.

2. Minutes and actions

There were no further comments on minutes, with actions from the previous meeting all complete.

3. Review report draft sections and agree approach for each

The group reviewed each section in turn, and identified the actions below:

a. Introduction

  • the group agreed it would be helpful to be more explicit around why this work is being conducted, what the added value is expected to be in going beyond the basic requirements of IRM, and around our ambitions for Scotland as an exemplar in this area.
  • Doreen to source an introduction to the idea of a citizen audit/citizen evaluation
  • Lucy McTernan to be asked to edit and add to the section by Doreen/Maddie

b. Overview of models in use elsewhere

  • the research for this section suggests that this will likely contain elements from multiple different models and reports, rather than fully relevant models
  • connected to this, there was recognition within the group of the difficulty finding truly relevant examples of citizen audits being carried out elsewhere due to the innovative nature of what the group is proposing – however the group agreed that there remains value in setting some context through examples of work carried out in the realm of financial transparency.

c. Goals and priorities for the OGP Scotland Approach

The group agreed that:

  • it is important to take learning from last week’s meeting with IRM around the balance between learning and accountability – feedback must be constructive
  • there must be a clear route for stakeholder feedback to inform the findings of the IRM report

d. Options/Course of action detail

  • the group discussed the structure of this section at length, acknowledging the challenges around defining sections such as “what will be measured/reported on” without reference to specific commitments. Jillian suggested an approach based on principles might be more appropriate – highlighting the importance of setting out indicators from the beginning of a reporting period and ensuring data quality.
  • Daren suggested this might lend itself to returning to the IRM as a starting point, setting options out as:
    1. Replicate current IRM in Scotland (reporting on verifiability, relevance, potential impact, completion, did it open government)
    2. Use IRM-in-a-box resources to create a slightly tailored “Scottish-IRM”
    3. Use IRM-in-a-box with additional longer-term assessment pieces.
  • it was agreed that as a working group, the minimum viable and reputationally sound option would be option 1.
  • the option of self-reporting was discounted, and it was agreed that the reasoning behind this should be included within the report.
  • the options for “who reports” were therefore agreed to be either an independent reporter alone, or an independent reporter plus a citizen panel
  • The group agreed to postpone making a decision on the format of this section of the report until it becomes clearer how the text would fit within the current headings.
  • Both the sections around “who does [the reporting]” and “how frequently and when will reporting take place” link to the scale of likely costs for the reporting mechanism. Doreen agreed to find out what the approximate costs are for Scotland’s IRM under the current system, to give an idea of scale.
  • Estimating costs around the citizen audit is challenging, as costs for this type of work do not translate well internationally. The group agreed that the value in this approach lies in the fact that it is experimental and innovative, reflecting positively on Scotland within the international OGP community. This should be proposed as something which is piloted on a small-scale within the delivery period of the third action plan, allowing learning to take place ahead of the reporting period at the end of the plan.
  • Within the section on “how frequently and when will reporting take place”, the group agreed that it could make sense to move away from the “course of action” structure, to instead discuss pros and cons of regular updates.
  • The group revisited the idea that the initial assessment which takes place should be reviewing draft commitments, before they are signed off. They also agreed that ideally monitoring should take place every year – but every two years at a minimum. Effective ongoing monitoring of milestones should also be emphasised – and this should be in collaboration between Government and Civil Society.
  • This raised the question of whether the group’s report should contain some consideration of a governance role for the OGP Steering Group, or a year-round role for a reporter or a secretariat. No conclusions were reached around this idea.

4. Remaining information-gathering required to complete report and prepare options

The remaining information-gathering required was covered during discussion on the previous item

5. Actions/next steps


  • Doreen to provide a short introduction to the idea of a citizen audit
  • Doreen to look into costings (or hours expected) for IRM, looking at one report per year for Scotland.
  • Doreen/Maddie to seek Lucy McTernan’s input on Introduction
  • Erin to provide support to Kelly, Alex and Saskia around drafting the Citizen Audit content for the report
  • Jillian to send draft content to Erin
  • Erin to continue collating and editing the draft report

Next steps:

  • Erin to consult on dates for IRM meeting, following which secretariat to arrange meeting

6. Date of next meeting

To be arranged by correspondence – late January

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